Virgin Media Wants Netflix Content

Welcome to the cable news roundup, Hump Day edition.

  • Virgin Media Inc. (Nasdaq: VMED) is in talks to add video streaming apps from Netflix Inc. (Nasdaq: NFLX) and LOVEFiLM International Ltd. to the MSO's new TiVo Inc. (Nasdaq: TIVO)-powered video product, company CEO Neil Berkett told Bloomberg. "We want TiVo to be completely open," he said, noting that no such deals are imminent and discussions are in the "early days." When it comes to combining TiVo and Netflix, it may be a case of wishful thinking for Virgin. In the U.S., Netflix's contracts with content providers prevent TiVo from adding the streaming service on boxes distributed by cable MSOs such as RCN Corp. , Suddenlink Communications and Charter Communications Inc. . (See Suddenlink Blames Netflix Contracts .)

  • But Virgin Media's TiVo offering is performing well even without Netflix. The MSO reported Wednesday that it ended 2011 with 435,100 TiVo subs after adding 273,000 net TiVo customers in the fourth quarter. On the financial front, Virgin posted a fourth-quarter profit of £48.2 million (US$76.64 million), versus a year-ago loss of £73.8 million (US$117.36 million), on revenues of £1 billion (US$1.59 billion), up 2 percent. It also added 12,100 video subs and 44,100 Internet customers in the quarter.

  • Speaking of TiVo, the DVR pioneer is "open to takeover bids" to help boost shareholder value, but the company's present plan is to remain independent, SNL Kagan reports. Rumor of the strategy is coming to light as the company continues to see its fortunes turn around thanks in part to its patent portfolio and the success it's starting to see with its pay-TV distribution model. (See AT&T to Pay TiVo $215M-Plus to Settle DVR Fight and TiVo Ends Subscriber-Losing Streak .)

  • AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) has "enhanced" its U-verse app for the iPad with features that turn the tablet into a fancy remote control, add search and recommendation elements, and let subs manage their DVRs remotely. Still missing among those enhancements: a way for customers to watch live TV on the tablets.

  • Canada's Telus Corp. (NYSE: TU; Toronto: T) has deployed components of Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) Videoscape, the vendor's cloud-based, multi-screen platform for pay-TV operators, to power the carrier's Optik TV "on the go" service for mobile devices. For the deployment, Telus is using the Videoscape MediaSuite (multi-screen content management and publishing) and software clients for the mobile devices. Telus's TV Everywhere service supports iOS devices as well as six Android models, and is being offered to customers in Alberta and British Columbia. (See Cisco's Videoscape Stresses Cloud Control.)

  • Redbox Automated Retail LLC filed to trademark the brand "Redbox Instant" in late January, reports FierceCable. The filing came just ahead of the company's new video partnership with Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) that intends to launch a joint subscription-based video streaming and DVD rental service in the second half of 2012. (See Verizon's Prelude to All-Out War and Verizon & Redbox Target Netflix .)

    — Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

  • msilbey 12/5/2012 | 5:43:16 PM
    re: Virgin Media Wants Netflix Content

    I wonder if there's room for Netflix to become the VOD provider for smaller MSOs. Clearly Netflix is going to have difficulties as more competitors forge ahead in the OTT market (look at Amazon's deal w/Viacom), but could it hedge its bets by also getting in bed with certain pay-TV providers? Comcast's already invested gazillions in its VOD library, but I'm betting there are other providers lacking content. It seems like there could be a deal to be worked out that would make Netflix, content providers, and smaller MSOs happy. 

    msilbey 12/5/2012 | 5:43:15 PM
    re: Virgin Media Wants Netflix Content

    And why would it have to be limited to TiVo implementations? Smaller MSOs could do a promotional bundle and throw in a cheap Roku+Netflix subscription for VOD, or use a Netflix addition to promote new mobile apps. There are possibilities, even if not all of them are elegant. 

    I didn't realize (or forgot) that some MSOs are offering Amazon VOD with TiVo. Makes sense too.

    Jeff Baumgartner 12/5/2012 | 5:43:15 PM
    re: Virgin Media Wants Netflix Content

    Interesitngly enough I believe some small MSOs are using Amazon as an OTT  VoD option in the TiVo boxes they are leasing to customers, though I doubt those MSOs  are getting a cut from any of those transactions.  I wouldn't be surprised if those MSos, especially the ones that don't have or can't afford to deploy a traditional VoD service, would like to have Netflix on board their leased TiVo boxes. Even Suddenlink, which has been embracing OTT these days anyway,  said they'd be happy to make Netflix available on their TiVo platform should Netflix secure the rights to do so.  But agree that not every MSO (ie. majors like Comcast) would probably share that attitude. JB


    Jeff Baumgartner 12/5/2012 | 5:43:14 PM
    re: Virgin Media Wants Netflix Content

    It certaintly wouldn't have to be limited to TiVo. I'd almost encourage some tier 2s to give away or subsidize Roku boxes alongside their pay-TV and broadband bundles. Granted, the implementation would be a bit clunky  as you mention since it's not integrated and would force subs to toggle their inputs, but if you're a small operator that's got a nice cable modem service but doesn't have any vod platform to speak of, OTT does give them a nice bridge. JB



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